If this was Peyton Manning‘s final game, he went out on top. The Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10 thanks in large part to their stifling defense —they allowed 315 offensive yards, but they sacked Cam Newton seven times and forced four turnovers. Von Miller posted 2.5 sacks (and was named Super Bowl MVP), DeMarcus Ware added two of his own, while Malik Jackson added a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Manning wasn’t great, completing just 13 passes for 141 yards and one interception, but the running game lead the way, as C.J. Anderson busted loose for 90 yards and one score.
Carolina certainly didn’t play poorly, especially on defense — they allowed just 194 Denver offensive yards, and sacked Manning five times. But Newton wasn’t at his best, completing less than 55% of his passes for 259 yards and one interception. Defensive end Kony Ealy was the star on the Panthers’ side, posting three sacks and one interception.
Both clubs have quite a bit on their plate as the offseason begins. The Broncos will wait to hear Manning’s decision on retirement, and then make their own decision on retaining him. Additionally, they’ll try to re-sign (or franchise) Miller, as well as find a way to keep Jackson. The Panthers, meanwhile, need to retain cornerback Josh Norman, and perhaps add more depth in the secondary and along the offensive line.
The offseason has begun! Who’s ready?
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.